In October 2020, the Sustainable Environergy Research Lab (SERL) under the Chemical Engineering Department of IIT Delhi, successfully demonstrated the working prototype of VRFB that can efficiently store and utilize renewable energy for a wide range of applications. Here is a brief on the versatile energy research being conducted in the institute…

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

In the last five years, IIT Delhi has filed over 45 patents in the thematic area of harnessing solar energy for different societal applications, many of which involve different types of solar pumps and their controllers. All these technologies hold huge potential to accelerate the realisation of the ‘Pradhan Mantri  Urja Suraksha Evam Utthaan Mahabhiyaan – PM KUSUM scheme of the Government of India. Also, the institute’s patents concerning micro-grid controllers can make remote villages self-sufficient by the integration of solar power, realising the national mission i.e., electricity for all.

Active CoEs in IIT Delhi

The deep technology research outcomes in the energy domain that scientists in the IIT Delhi have been able to achieve – have attracted many government and non-government organisations working in the area of energy to come forward – to set up their Centres of Excellence (CoE) at the institute.

ReNew Power Centre of Excellence on Energy & Environment, Yardi Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Infrastructure (CoESI) and the DST sponsored research on excellence in Energy Storage Platform on Batteries (ESPOB) are some of the research centres at IIT Delhi, which are focused on energy related research and development with an aim to make the country self-reliant.

An important field of research

As the mobility sector consumes a lot of energy, there is a shift towards battery operated vehicles. Therefore, one of the research focus areas at IIT Delhi is also the development of battery operated vehicles. The most critical part of the battery i.e.,‘Battery Management System (BMS)’ is being researched at the institute’s Center for Automotive Research & Tribology (CART). Researchers at CART are working on the algorithm to measure the state of health of the Li-ion battery. Besides, they are also working towards developing frameworks for reusability of Li-ion batteries for secondary applications.

Commenting on the mission of their research works, Prof V. Ramgopal Rao, Director, IIT Delhi said, “To make the country a CO2 minimal nation while ensuring energy security, we need to migrate from conventional energy sources to renewable and sustainable alternatives. Since these sources of energy are mostly intermittent in nature, the need of energy storage research also becomes very vital. On the other hand, the need for energy security in the mobility domain compels us to quickly move from gasoline based IC (Internal Combustion) engines to either alternative fuel-based engines or Electric Vehicles.”

Other R&D activities

IIT Delhi’s research group on ‘Highly Efficient Solar PV Water Pumping System’ as well as ‘Multi-functional Fast Electric Vehicle Charger’ are quite strong. The group working on the ‘Multi-functional Fast Electric Vehicle Charger’ has also taken its research to a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 8. A technology’s TRL is determined during a Technology Readiness Assessment (TRA) that examines programme concepts, technology requirements, and demonstrated technology capabilities. TRLs are based on a scale from 1 to 9 with 9 being the most mature technology.

Further detailing on their research projects, Prof S. K. Khare, Dean, Research & Development, IIT Delhi, said, “At IIT Delhi, we have also undertaken research in the grand challenges mode to address the future sustainable energy needs. The most notable one in the energy domain is to convert the CO2 to value added products. Also, the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Infrastructure has ventured to achieve a net zero energy consumption building using IoT (Internet of Things) based data driven algorithms and low-cost retrofitted solutions”.

Alternative to LPG and CNG

IIT Delhi has also been doing pioneering work in the area of biogas research and as a success story the institute has developed the country’s first biogas-based car, which has run more than 50,000 kilometres on biogas in the last 6 years.

Besides, the small scale biogas upgradation technology developed at IIT Delhi is very popular and has been licensed to 07 industries and many gaushalas. The upgraded biogas has been used as an alternative to LPG and CNG. In January 2012, the institute had launched the world’s first hydrogen-powered three-wheeler, ‘HyAlfa’. Recently, its Centre for Energy Studies has pioneered the demonstration of Hydrogen as an alternative fuel to diesel for powering a generator set.

Work on energy storage

IIT Delhi’s journey on energy research continues with the institute venturing into Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB), which can be an efficient replacement to the polluting diesel generators. VRFB can efficiently store and utilize renewable energy for a wide range of applications such as rural electrification, e-vehicle charging station, domestic and commercial power back-up etc., leading to zero carbon footprint.

Vanadium Redox Flow Battery (VRFB) demonstration…
Image by IIT Delhi…

Towards building the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’

As with the increase in the per capita energy consumption, the generation of CO2 has also increased to a very high level, our nation has to adopt alternative ways to mitigate the same. IIT Delhi’s energy research works are aligned to this goal – and the institute has offered many such solutions.

Highly Efficient Solar PV Water Pumping System, Multi-functional Fast Electric Vehicle Charger and VRFB are perfect embodiment of the institute’s national vision, ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’.

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